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The MLS Tax Clinic is a unique course and the first of its kind at the MLS.
This course provides students with the opportunity to undertake advice and representation work for vulnerable taxpayers (individuals and small businesses). Students will be engaged in all aspects of the Clinic’s operation and will work under the guidance and supervision of the Clinic Supervisor and members of the tax and profession to advise and resolve issues presented by vulnerable taxpayer clients of the clinic.
The MLS Tax Clinic is a ‘live’ client facing clinic with provides students with the opportunity to put their existing tax law knowledge into practice. This course will enhance students’ understanding of taxation law and practice and will also develop fundamental legal skills of general application such as client interviewing, file and practice management, research and writing. Examples of matters that may be dealt with by the MLS Tax Clinic include tax residency, capital gains tax, deductions, penalties and interest waivers and the gig economy. In appropriate cases, students will have the opportunity to represent clients in disputes with the Australian Taxation Office and negotiate with the ATO for appropriate outcomes for clients.
Students will be required to undertake a series of orientation sessions before the start of the semester and/or in weeks 1 and 2 of the semester. The seminars will focus on topics of relevance to the MLS Tax Clinic such as; fundamental legal skills on tax administration and process, client interviewing techniques, file preparation and management, collecting, managing and storing sensitive information, interacting with and establishing rapport with clients and navigating ATO systems and databases. Further seminars or guest speakers may be organised during the semester as necessary.
The Clinic will see clients from Weeks 2 – 12 (excluding the non-teaching period).
The Clinic will operate over three days in each week, Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday. Students will be required to attend one regular non-client facing session (3 hours) and one regular client facing session (4 hours) each week (one full day in total). It is highly preferable for students to register into their non-client facing session and their client facing session on the same day.
During their clinic work time, students will also take part in debrief sessions with the Clinic Supervisor, where students will discuss their matter, evaluate their progress and discuss their perceptions of the law in practice and their own role.
Intended learning outcomes
A student who has successfully completed this subject will:
- Have an advanced and integrated understanding of the practical aspects of providing tax advice;
- Be able to competently prepare for and interview clients with a view to resolving their tax query;
- Be able to critically examine and analyse the requirements of the key documents that need to be prepared in practice;
- Have a sophisticated appreciation of the tax dispute process;
- Have a detailed understanding of the tax advisor’s legal, ethical and practical obligations;
- Have the cognitive and technical skills to generate critical and creative ideas relating to the practical aspects of tax practice;
- Have the cognitive and technical skills to independently examine, research and analyse the key elements and features of effective tax advice;
- Have the communication skills to clearly articulate and convey complex information to specialist and non-specialist audiences.
- Applied research skills, including the ability to research, evaluate and synthesise relevant factual and legal issues in the context of a complex area of law;
- Legal practice skills, including critical legal analysis, client interviewing, negotiation, professional ethics and writing legal briefs;
- Personal and professional skills, including learning autonomously, being accountable for one’s work, time management and self-reflection on performance;
- Skills required for effective workplace performance, including teamwork, communication, office organisation and co-worker collaboration; and
- Research and reflection skills, including the ability to engage in high-level analysis and critical reflection, and to develop and articulate clear and credible legal analysis.
Last updated: 25 July 2020